Massive global entertainment marketplace this month a coup for Miami
By Zachary S. Fagenson
The return of a massive conference and market for global entertainment executives is a coup for Miami, but it's uncertain whether it will have an "Art Basel effect" and spawn a host of similar and related events around it.
Still, the impact of the National Association of Television Programming Executives Market and Conference should be palpable.
Some 5,000 attendees are expected in town Jan. 23-26. The conference will take over the entire Fontainebleau Hotel from the Saturday before the conference to the one after, 400 rooms at the Eden Roc and couple hundred others at nearby hotels.
The event, which began in 1964, has come to Miami Beach three times, most recently in 1994. It features 65 sessions over three days and touches every part of the industry.
It's so broad that NATPE President Rick Feldman couldn't even pin down which sessions are the highlights of the conference.
"Honestly, we try to be really broad in what we cover. All of it's important. We cover the advertising world, we cover the cable world [and] the broadcast world," he said. "We cover it from the content-first perspective."
The conference includes a one-on-one conversation with NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker and Michael Nathanson, managing director of media research giant Nomura's technology, media and telecommunications team. It also has seminars for producers on crafting the "perfect" pitch as well as the changes in producing and selling content in the digital world.
"All of the conversations are from the perspective of who's creating original content, who's distributing it and how's it getting monetized," Mr. Feldman said. "Wednesday day we have a track that's all day devoted to brands, advertising, marketing innovation."
The event also includes a marketplace where content creators, advertisers and media executives can strike deals. The association, however, doesn't keep track of how many are made or their value.
The "truth of the matter is you never know," Mr. Feldman said. "It's a useless exercise."
Meanwhile, the city of Miami Beach has a unique opportunity to raise its profile among entertainment executives.
"We want them to recognize that Miami is not just a pretty face but a place where you can do legitimate business," said Graham Winick, Miami Beach film and event production manager. A big goal, he added, is to steal some television business from entertainment capitals like New York and Los Angeles.
Local groups like Mr. Winick's office, the Miami-Dade Office of Film & Entertainment, Venevision and the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, known as CAMACOL, will host a welcome reception for 1,500 expected NATPE attendees where they'll show off the state's $242 million filming incentive program.
"In addition to that, I know of other local events, like Telemundo having a signature event Monday evening at Vizcaya," Mr. Winick added.
Whether the conference and market will start a production revolution here, however, remains up for debate.
"We've always felt that the tree was ripe for the entertainment fruit like it did for Basel or the [South Beach] wine and food festival," Mr. Winick said. But "this is less of a consumer show. It's exclusively an industry show."
Taking on a consumer aspect may not be the goal of the show's producers, though. When the conference began in 1964, Mr. Feldman said, it arose from buyers and sellers recognizing their mutual need to gather.
Expanding it would require a larger venue, but that would go against the logic that landed the show here this year. Organizers cited the ability to host attendees and nearly all of the show's events in the same hotel, whereas in Las Vegas attendees and events were spread across the city.
"It would be easier for us to grow this business into something else if we were at the convention center instead of Fontainebleau," Mr. Feldman continued. "There could be a time when NATPE would be at a convention center, but I don't see it for the next couple of years."
And while the conference is certain to take place in 2012, the opening of the conference in late January will in effect be Miami's audition to host the event in later years.
"This is our first time here [and] we need to see how it goes," Mr. Feldman said. "If all things are good, obviously we'd like to stay."
Miami film festivals continue despite sponsorship losses. Read the story in e-Miami Today.